What is Kimchi?
There is a wide range of vegetables to choose from including cabbage, onion, radish, and the carrot of different range. According to the ingredient, the nutritional value differs and also the nutrient benefits.
Kimchi is made by cutting vegetables into slices and massaging salt over them. This creates brine to start the fermentation process. Then spices are added to it and it is packed tightly in a jar. This is left to ferment for a week or two at room temperature. It can also be eaten fresh or in an unfermented state.
Kimchi is also readily available in the food shops and supermarkets.
The Nutrient Profile Of Kimchi
Kimchi has a high nutrient profile and is low in calories.
Cabbage is the main ingredient in kimchi. It is known to be rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, minerals, and amino acids.(3)
Kimchi can be made from different ingredients therefore its nutritional profile varies depending on the brand and ingredient types.
On average, one cup of serving contains approximately 23 calories, 2 grams protein, 4 grams carbs, less than 1 gram fat, 747mg sodium, 19% of DV of vitamin B6, 22% of the daily value of vitamin C, 55% of DV of vitamin K, 21% of DV of iron, 10% of DV of niacin, and 24% of DV of riboflavin.(4,5)
Health Benefits Of Kimchi
Rich in Probiotics
Kimchi undergoes a Lacto-fermentation process that extends its shelf life and enhances its taste and aroma.
Bacterium lactobacillus used in this process breaks down sugar into lactic acid that gives kimchi a sour taste. This bacterium is known to be used in the treatment of hay fever and certain types of diarrhea.(8)
Fermentation creates an environment for friendly bacteria to survive, thrive, and multiply. It includes probiotics, live microorganisms that are known for various health benefits.(9)
These are known to play a role in the prevention and treatment of several conditions including cancer, constipation, mental health, common cold, heart health, gastrointestinal health, and skin conditions.
Benefits of Kimchi in Strengthening the Immune System
Lactobacillus bacterium in kimchi can help boost immune health.
A study done on mice found, those injected with Lactobacillus Plantarum had low levels of inflammatory markers than the control group.(10)
A test-tube study isolated Lactobacillus Plantarum from kimchi found that the bacterium had an immune-enhancing effect.(11)
A study done on a mouse found that HDMPPA, a principal compound present in kimchi, suppressed inflammation, and improved blood vessel health.(13) This compound displayed anti-inflammatory properties by blocking and suppressing the release of inflammatory compounds.(14)
The studies are mostly done on rats and need to be done on humans to know the effect.
Inflammation not only leads to illnesses but also accelerates the aging process.
Kimchi is known to prolong cell life by slowing down the aging process.
A test-tube study on human cells treated with kimchi found it increased viability and overall cell health. It also showed an extended life span regardless of age.
More research is needed to study its effect in slowing the aging process.
Prevents Yeast Infections
The probiotics and healthy bacteria present in kimchi is beneficial in preventing yeast infections.
Weight Loss Benefits of Kimchi
Whether fresh or fermented, kimchi is low in calories. It is beneficial in boosting weight loss.
Also, it was found that those who ate fermented kimchi, showed significant improvement in blood pressure and body fat percentage than those who ate fresh kimchi.
Supports Heart Health
Research show kimchi can reduce the risk of heart disease.(18) It could be due to its anti-inflammatory effect.
A study was done on mice for 8 weeks. They were fed with high cholesterol diet. Fat levels in the blood and liver of mice given kimchi extract were found to be lower than those in the control group.(19) Kimchi also showed to suppress fat growth.
Another study done on 100 people found, eating kimchi daily decreased the blood sugar level, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels. All of these are risk factors for heart disease.(20)
Kimchi is a Korean dish that is prepared by fermentation. It boasts of numerous probiotics that make it useful for various health conditions. You can easily make this dish at home and can buy it from food stores.
Mostly Kimchi is safe to be eaten by everyone unless a person is allergic to an individual ingredient present in it. It can also lead to a few side effects such as gas and bloating in those not used to eating fermented food.